Routine Patterns

I was thinking about routines this morning, and my lifelong inability to stick to them. Conventional wisdom - that vast pool of 'common knowledge', mostly created by someone trying to sell something - that if you repeat something new every day for 30 days, or 6 weeks, or some other guru-imposed time frame, it will become a habit and you'll continue doing it automatically from then on.

Ah hah! I knew I could find a suitable quote (first page of Google results, too):

"Experts say that it takes about 3 months of repetition to form a habit."

It's quoted for things like launching a new exercise routine, flossing your teeth, learning organizational skills ... pretty much anything that's good for you. I don't know how much success others have had at introducing new habits this way, but it's never worked for me. Yes, I can develop a new (usually self-improving) habit through diligent repetition. But sooner or later, without my realizing it, I revert to my old, unimproved ways. Or take up something new, although I'm usually more aware of that. I kept a DayTimer diligently for 8 or 9 months, logging each and every thing I had to do ... then looked at it one morning and realized I hadn't written in it for 2 weeks. I took vitamins every morning at breakfast for almost a year, then noticed the bottle, obviously long neglected, collecting dust on top of my fridge. I don't even drive to work the same way every day - there's sufficient scope for variation in my commute that I can take any of 4 or 5 different routes home, and my choices are inspired more by spur-of-the-moment whim than traffic patterns.

Which is not to say I have no habits - I know of a few, and I'm sure those who live with me could point out many more. But they seem to have all developed involuntarily on my part. I'm still undecided as to whether this is a personal weakness, or the mark of greatness - a sign of advanced intelligence, or defiant non-conformity.

In either case, it doesn't bode well for this blog. Odds are very good that I'll keep it up for a few months, then realize one day in January that I've forgotten all about it - including my log-in ID.

So don't say I didn't warn you.